Modi anointed BJP's PM candidate, Advani sulks

Modi anointed BJP's PM candidate, Advani sulks

Ending months of speculation and ignoring a defiant patriarch, the BJP on Friday declared Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate ahead of the 2014 elections. The move also marked a generational shift in the party.

BJP president Rajnath Singh, who made a botched last-minute effort to bring L K Advani on board, officially called for the parliamentary board meeting at 5:30 pm at its Ashoka Road headquarters to decide on Modi’s elevation three days before he turns 63.

The skepticism over the outcome was visible in the party office as the preparation for the coronation function lacked finesse. 

After the meeting, which Advani skipped to show his dissent, Singh said the decision had been taken by the party’s highest decision-making body as per tradition  and was also “based on the mood of the nation and the party cadre”.

Besides Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is ill, the 12-member board meeting was attended by Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, M Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Modi, Ananth Kumar, Thawarchand Gehlot and Ramlal.

“We will leave no stone unturned to ensure BJP’s victory,” said Modi. Later, the Gujarat chief minister also shouted a slogan “nayi soch, nayi ummeed (new thinking, new hope)” before party cadres and vowed that the BJP will contest the 2014 polls on good governance and development plank, while continuing to raise issues like corruption and price rise.

The party was spoiled by L K Advani who expressed his dissent on the decision in writing as well, which leaders fear will further isolate him. He wrote a two-paragraph letter to party president Singh, indirectly accusing him of Modi’s elevation.

Advani stated: “This afternoon when you had come to my residence to inform me about the parliamentary board meeting, I had said something about my anguish as also my disappointment over your style of functioning. I had told you that I will think whether I should share my thoughts with other members or not. Now I have decided that it is better that I do not attend today’s meeting.”

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